Division 3: Familiar Foes Face Off

February 21, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This Division 3 Finals weekend already looks familiar with five of last season's eight Quarterfinalists making the trip back to Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena.

And top seeds Dundee and Richmond are slated to meet again for the championship – like they did last season, two of the last three years and three of the last six.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 3, listed by seed. Their Quarterfinal matches begin at 1 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 9:30 Saturday morning and the championship match at 4 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv. For results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page. Rankings below are from MichiganGrappler.com


Record/rank: 20-2, No. 1
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Tim Roberts, 14th season (386-54-1)
Championship history: Six MHSAA championships (most recently 2007), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 John Marogen (37-7) sr., 103 Kenny Reinhart (31-14) soph., 112 Zach Blevins (33-12) fr., 125 Brendan O’Connor (39-7) jr., 135 Brad Scholl (22-5) jr., 140 Doug Rojem (47-1) jr., 140 Sean Marogen (28-16) jr., 152 Liam Grantham (31-3) sr., 160 Todd Olson (43-3) sr., 171 Tye Thompson (23-7) soph., 189 Teddy Warren (43-2) jr., 215 Jay Sroufe (28-7) sr.
Outlook: Dundee is making its 11th straight trip to Battle Creek and coming off its fourth-runner-up finish in five seasons. Nine wrestlers are back from last season’s championship match lineup, and Olson and John Marogen were individual runners-up last season. The Vikings beat No. 10 Manchester in the Regional on the way back to the Quarterfinals.


Record/rank: 24-4, No. 2
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Coach: Brandon Day, ninth season (304-63)
Championship history: Six MHSAA championships (most recently 2012), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Aaron Kilburn (36-7) fr., 119 Graham Barton (21-20) fr., 125 Austin Vannatter (33-14) soph., 130 Nick Burg (36-10) jr., 130 Alex Muzlajakovich (27-7) jr., 135 Austin Cattera (23-7) sr., 140 Nate Henke (37-6) sr., 145 Devin Skatzka (45-2) soph., 152 Dalton Yore (28-14) sr., 160 Jordan Adams (28-15) soph., 171 Austin Peltier (31-16) jr., 189 Jake McKiernan (45-5) jr., 215 Adam Boyd (31-14) soph.
Outlook: Aside from the retirement of coach George Hamblin – who led the team to all six of its MHSAA titles, the last four as co-coach with Day – this Richmond team looks a lot like the one that won its third-straight championship last winter. Again, the Blue Devils have 13 individual qualifiers, and all 14 starters have winnings records – with six more reserves who have won at least 20 matches apiece. Skatzka is the reigning individual champion at 135 pounds.  


Record/rank: 25-0, No. 3
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Cliff Sandee, sixth season (148-25)
Championship history: MHSAA runner-up in 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Logan Morningstar (42-4) sr., 103 Reiley Brown (44-4) fr., 112 Logan Irey (42-9) sr., 125 Zach Cooper (50-0) sr., 145 Dakota Hoffman (32-16) jr., 160 Steven Sika (47-3) sr., 171 Joe Sika (45-2) sr., 215 Hunter Shaw (22-7) jr.
Outlook: After entering as the number six seed last season, Whitehall has moved into the top half for this weekend. The Vikings beat both No. 4 Grand Rapids Catholic Central and No. 8 Allendale at the Regional after defeating No. 5 Shelby in the District Final. Zack Cooper and Joe Sika are ranked number one in their respective weight classes and are two of eight senior starters.


Record/rank: 27-3, No. 7
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East
Coach: Bart Bennett, fifth season (137-20)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Kyle Kelsey (32-12) sr., 119 Jerry Fenner (51-3) soph., 125 Adam Bishop (37-7) sr., 130 Damian Johnson (50-4) sr., 140 Ean Taylor (24-10) fr., 140 Lake Bennett (50-6) sr., 145 Mitch Franklin (43-11) jr., 152 Jared Elliott (44-7) jr.
Outlook: Make that three league, four District and two Regional championships over the last four seasons for Birch Run, which beat No. 9 Saginaw Swan Valley at the Regional last week. Fenner, Johnson, Bennett and Elliott all are ranked among the top four in their respective weight classes. Bennett and Johnson are two of nine senior starters total.


Record/rank: 26-4, No. 6
League finish: Tied for first in Central State Activities Association
Coach: Nate Ethridge, 13th season (381-79)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Richie Ostrander (50-6) jr., 112 Zach King (48-5) jr., 119 Johnny Lynch (43-5) sr., 130 Joe Coleman (38-14) sr., 135 Kevin Briscoe (41-13) soph., 152 Jason Peacock (51-1) sr., 215 Cole Thielen (45-11) sr.
Outlook: The Warriors are back in the Quarterfinals for the sixth time in eight seasons, and this time the lineup features six wrestlers with at least 40 wins. Chippewa Hills tied for first in its league with Hesperia, the second-seeded team in Division 4. Peacock is ranked fifth at his weight and should contend for a championship next weekend as well.


Record/rank: 34-1, unranked
League finish: Second in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Coach: Tom DeRyder, fifth season (91-62)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Andy Caffrey (49-0) sr., 145 Steven Rantz (48-7) jr.
Outlook: After finishing 5-24 in DeRyder’s first season, Parchment has increased its win total every winter over the last four and become a contender in the same league as Division 4 power Constantine. Caffrey is the top-ranked wrestler at his weight in this division, and six others have won at least 40 matches this season.


Record/rank: 12-0, unranked
League finish: Second in Great Northern UP Conference
Coach: Jesse DeBacker, third season (32-9)
Championship history: MHSAA Upper Peninsula champion 1987, two UP runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Tom Bailey (32-7) jr., 112 James Bruce (31-10) fr., 125 Jared Syverson (20-11) jr., 130 Bobby Beauchamp (21-12) fr., 145 Josh Kadish (24-5) sr., 171 Jake Cronick (28-10) soph., 189 Jack Cronick (31-8) jr.
Outlook: Gladstone owns District championships from all three seasons under DeBacker, and also claimed the final championship of the Upper Peninsula-only tournament that ended after the 1986-87 season. Kadish and Jake Cronick both are ranked among the top 10 in their respective weight classes.


Record/rank: 17-8, unranked
League finish: Third in O-K Blue
Coach: Travis Meyer, fifth season (89-52)
Championship history: MHSAA runner-up 1988.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Nate Cooley (29-15) soph., 125 Jesse Scheidel (36-7) soph., 152 Michael Walker (34-12) soph., 189 Neil McCully (38-10) jr., 215 Todd Haller (35-6) sr.
Outlook: After beating both of its District opponents by at least 28 points apiece, Belding edged its Regional opponents by two and one point, respectively, for its first trip to Battle Creek under Meyer. Haller and McCully both are ranked among the top 10 in their respective weight classes.

PHOTO: Dundee's Teddy Warren (right) wrestles with Richmond's Eric Boyd during last season's Division 3 Final at Kellogg Arena. Warren is back this winter. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Lowell Enters Another Elite Group of Champs with 11th-Straight Finals Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

February 24, 2024

KALAMAZOO – There’s nothing quite like the roar of a crowd after your team has clinched an MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals title.

That’s true whether it’s for title No. 1, or, in the case of Casey Engle and his Lowell teammates Saturday, for their program’s 11th-straight Division 2 championship.

“It’s unreal,” Engle said. “It’s something I look forward to every year.”

Lowell extended its record run of wrestling team titles by defeating Freeland 49-21 in the Division 2 Final at Wings Events Center.

The Red Arrows joined the Grosse Pointe South (1976-86) and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (1980-90) girls tennis programs in winning 11 straight Finals titles. Only East Grand Rapids boys swimming & diving, winning 15 straight from 1948-62, and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice boys lacrosse – with 13 straight from 2005-17 – have longer Finals championship streaks in Lower Peninsula or statewide competition.

“I mean, it’s possible (to reach 15),” said sophomore Jarrett Smith, whose pin at 106 pounds clinched the title. “It’s hard to predict that far, four years into the future. We’re losing some key guys, but we graduated 14 last year, five this year, so we’re returning some firepower.”

Lowell is always returning firepower, and it’s consistently adding it, too, giving new waves of Red Arrows the chance to raise a wooden mitten. 

That’s why for coach RJ Boudro, each title remains just as sweet as the last.

“Why would it get old?” said Boudro, who has been in charge for 10 of those titles. “Look at the crowd. When I first walked in here, I looked up, and you see that we have more fans here than anybody else, and that’s what it’s about. Next year will be fun, too. When you can still bring crowds in and you can do it 11 years in a row, there’s more to that than just winning. If it was just about winning, why else would they come? They would probably think it was a foregone conclusion. They love the kids; they love the community.”

One could forgive an outsider for believing it’s a foregone conclusion when Lowell takes the mat for the Division 2 postseason, as it’s won the Final by more than 20 points in each of the past five seasons and in seven of its 11 straight championship victories.

The Falcons’ Elijah Murphy, left, locks up Lowell’s Ari McFarland at 215. So to avoid that feeling creeping into his wrestling room, Boudro makes it clear the Red Arrows’ responsibility isn’t just to win on the mat, but to strive for something bigger.

“We’re not doing it to just win state championships,” Boudro said. “We’re trying to find out who we are, we’re trying to be better men, better women, better coaches. So, it’s not just about winning, it’s about being a better person. Whether I’m a coach or a kid, just trying to find a way to be better. When you’re doing that all the time, you get better, but you feel like you have a purpose. Every single guy on the team feels like they have a purpose, and that’s really important.”

Just 14 wrestlers can step onto the mat in a single dual, and the same number is the max a team can enter into the individual postseason, so accomplishing that can sometimes be as tough as anything else for Lowell wrestlers, and certainly helps motivate them throughout the season – foregone conclusions or not.

“One of our signs up there I saw, it says, ‘Tradition never graduates,’ and it’s true,” Smith said. “We just keep the kids coming. Even our B Team, C Team are competing at the highest level. At the beginning of Districts, we had 17 ranked guys, and you can only send 14. So we have just great partners all around.”

Freeland, meanwhile, was making its first appearance in a Final, after getting to the Quarterfinals for the third time in program history. 

“Outstanding. Outstanding. They’ve been giving their all every match,” Freeland coach Scott VanLuven said. “They’ve been doing it all year. We beat Brighton, we weren’t supposed to. We beat (Bay City) John Glenn in our conference, then we had to beat them again in our District Final when we weren’t supposed to. No one gave us really a chance down here, I think. But they believed, and they did well.”

The Falcons (25-3) still had a shot with three matches to go, trailing 31-21. But Smith put a quick end to that with his pin at 106, and that was followed by a pair of pins from Cole and Carter Cichocki at 113 and 120, respectively.

Of the Arrows’ nine wins in the dual, eight came by either pin or technical fall, as Jackson Blum (138), Jared Boone (165) and Engle (190) also won by pinfall. Logan Dawson (132) and Owen Segorski (144) each won by tech. Cody Foss (126) opened the dual with a win by decision for Lowell (22-3).

Fabian Facundo (150) and Bringham Smith (285) each won by pin for Freeland, while Noah Graham (157), Gibson Shepard (175) and Elijah Murphy (215) all won by decision.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Lowell’s Cole Cichocki, left, lines up against Freeland’s Michael Wilson at 113 pounds Saturday. (Middle) The Falcons’ Elijah Murphy, left, locks up Lowell’s Ari McFarland at 215. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)